Let’s go to Fox Village…in the snow!

Fox Village in Miyagi prefecture

It’s a lot easier to get up close and personal with wild animals in Japan, because it’s the Land that Lawyers Forgot and because the Japanese public is better at following rules and being respectful of animals than people in the country where I grew up.

Fox Village is a legendary fox sanctuary in the mountains of Miyagi prefecture, where you can go into the spacious hilly habitat and walk among the dozens of foxes that live there. It’s an amazing opportunity to get up close and personal with this legendary trickster, and if you’re lucky enough to be there in the winter, all the foxes are at their furriest and fluffiest.

Their large natural habitat is filled with trees…
…and dotted with little dens where they can sleep and get out of the wind. They all receive regular veterinary care when they need it, and there is a separate sheltered area where foxes being treated for various ailments are kept apart while they recover.
Visitors can buy bags of nutritious fox chow at the entrance, and are allowed to feed the foxes from the platform in the middle of the enclosure
The rustle of a chow bag calls them in like a dinner gong…
…with the most enthusiastic, naturally, pushing to the front
Pick me! Pick me!
Who could resist that face?
(Gratuitous shot of fox tails, which are the most excellent in the animal kingdom)
It felt pretty chilly to me, walking around in the snow…
But the foxes felt right at home in their luxurious fur coats!

Hours: 9:00 – 17:00 (last admission 16:30)

Open: Every day of the year, except closed on Wednesdays

Admission: Adults ¥1000, Children (12 and younger): Free

Here’s where Fox Village is:

Here’s how to get to Fox Village from Tokyo:

I used the Japan Navigation phone app to figure out this route, and you can easily use it too, with your actual date and preferred arrival time. It’s also good for finding the easiest way to get to Tokyo Station from where you’re staying. Here’s where to get the app and how to use it.

Getting to Fox Village from Shiroishi-zao Station

The best way is to catch a taxi from the train station, because the buses run very infrequently. It’s about a 20-minute cab ride, and costs between ¥3500 and ¥4000, each way. The cab drivers don’t seem to mind driving out to Fox Village at all, and you can arrange for them to come back to pick you up at a certain time, if you like (which is especially handy if you don’t want to make a phone call in Japanese AIEEEEE). Fox Village really is out in the middle of the nowhere, so it’s a good idea to have an exit plan, since you can’t really go out and hail a cab on the road outside when you’re ready to leave.

Be sure to check the weather forecast and the Fox Village website before you leave, because sometimes the roads aren’t passable in the winter because of snow. Here is a link to the English page on the Fox Village Website.

What to do when you get to Fox Village

Buy your tickets inside at the reception desk. It costs ¥1000 for adults (children twelve and under are free). You can also buy snacks to feed the foxes (or carrots to feed the bunnies)  for ¥200 per baggie at the desk. The person at the desk will explain the rules in Japanese. Here is what she says:

– Hide the food when you are walking around in the fox habitat and only feed the foxes from the platform. This is so they don’t learn to mob visitors – the foxes are not tame, and they can bite, so if they learn to grab food from visitors, it will be too dangerous for visitors to mix with the foxes anymore. Children are especially vulnerable, so please be sure they understand this rule. 

– Don’t stick your fingers into the cages of foxes that are in the care of the veterinarian. Even baby foxes bite, and fingers look especially appetizing to them.

After that, go through to the courtyard beyond, where they keep the foxes being treated for injuries/infections and the baby foxes (Mar – July). They will show you the door to the fox habitat.

You can roam freely around among the foxes in the habitat, for as long as you like.

Afterwards, exit through the gift store, where they sell all kinds of Fox Village candy, good luck charms and souvenirs.

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Jonelle Patrick writes mystery novels set in Tokyo, and blogs at Only In Japan and The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had

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